Russia given boot from G8
THE HAGUE, Netherlands—Stephen Harper and his fellow G7 leaders are suspending their participation in the Group of Eight until Russia “changes course” in eastern Europe and eases tensions in the most ominous crisis to grip the region since the Cold War.
The prime minister joined the leaders of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan in their united front yesterday—isolating Russia as punishment for last week’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
But Harper urged the world not to be fooled by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s apparent ambivalence towards the G7’s actions.
“The cavalier reaction of Putin is to strut everywhere and shrug off any response; that’s just how he handles these things,” Harper noted.
“Russia’s increasing diplomatic isolation . . . we don’t believe is trivial,” Harper added.
“A regime does not spend $50 billion on the Olympics if it does not care about its international reputation.
“This is meaningful action,” he stressed.
The G7 leaders also said they’re preparing to “intensify actions” against Russia if Moscow escalates the conflict in southeastern Ukraine any further.
That could include targeting Russia’s lucrative energy sector, Harper suggested.
White House officials have said U.S. President Barack Obama is prepared to inflict widespread penalties against key sectors of Russia’s economy, including its energy industry, if Putin dares move into southeastern Ukraine.
“We know there are a number of vulnerabilities and sensitivities, we know energy’s important, and that’s why we’re determined to continue to work over the long-term and to develop a plan that will be effective,” Harper said.